Taking Xanax During Pregnancy Does NOT Increase Autism Risk In Babies, Major Study Finds
- Taiwanese scientists tested 1.5 million babies for autism and Xanax exposure
- Recommendations not to use anti-anxiety drugs in pregnancy to stay in place
- This is due to its links to developmental disorders and addiction in newborns.
Taking Xanax during pregnancy does not increase the baby’s risk of autism, a major study has found.
Anxiety drug prescriptions and autism rates have risen in recent years, and previous studies have suggested the two may be linked.
The researchers analyzed the medical records of nearly 1.5 million mothers and children up to the age of 14 who were born in Taiwan between 2004 and 2017.
After adjusting for other risk factors, such as a genetic history of neurodevelopmental disorders, there was “no evidence” that anxiety medications were correlated with increased risk of autism in children.
Dr Vincent Chen, an epidemiologist who led the research, said: “This cohort study found no evidence that benzodiazepine exposure during pregnancy was associated with increased risk of ASD or ADHD among offspring.”
“Our results challenge current assumptions of a possible association of neurodevelopmental disorders with maternal benzodiazepine use before or during pregnancy.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that women should be aware of the risks of taking benzodiazepines, including sedation, low muscle tone, and shortness of breath. But the link to autism was never fully established.
Xanax does not increase a child’s risk of autism, a landmark study ruled (file photo)
Autism spectrum disorder refers to a wide range of conditions in which children have difficulty interacting with their peers and may repeat behaviors.
It begins in early childhood, although some cases may not be diagnosed until children are in their teens or early adulthood.
About 5 million people in the US are thought to have the condition.
Experts Warn Anxiety Pills Could Be The Next Opioid Crisis
Experts warned today that the US risks creating an opioid-like crisis with anxiety pills if it decides to test everyone under 65 for the condition.
The US Preventive Services Task Force, one of the most influential bodies in US health care, recommended last month that the approximately 200 million Americans age 18 and older be screened, including if they don’t have any symptoms.
It would make clinical help for anxiety more accessible and force patients to jump through fewer hoops to get help, doctors say.
But experts told DailyMail.com it could lead to a surge in prescriptions for anti-anxiety drugs, which are already feared to be at the center of a looming addiction crisis in the US.
The most common anxiety medications are in the benzodiazepine class, with fast-acting drugs like Xanax, Klomopin, Valium, and Ativan being among the group.
Dr. Anna Lembke, head of Stanford University’s Addiction Medicine Dual Diagnosis Clinic, told this website that she feared the new guidance would have echoes of the opioid epidemic.
Dr. Jonathan Shedler, a professor of psychiatry at the University of California, San Francisco, told Fox News that following the recommendation would be “terrible.”
Researchers at Chiayi Chang Guny Memorial Hospital in Chiayi, southwestern Taiwan, investigated the link between autism and benzodiazepine use during pregnancy.
Benzodiazepines, which include Xanax, are a class of psychoactive drugs known for their depressant effect on the central nervous system.
They diffuse rapidly through the blood-brain barrier to cause sedative effects.
They are used for those who struggle with sleepiness, anxiety, spasticity due to CNS pathology, muscle relaxation, and epilepsy. One of the debilitating side effects is its addictive potential.
The medical records of 1.13 million mothers, who had given birth to 1.5 million children, were extracted.
All births took place between 2004 and 2017.
The medical records of mothers who were prescribed benzodiazepines during pregnancy were examined.
The children’s records were also accessed to show which ones had been diagnosed with autism.
A total of 826 of the 76,000 children exposed to Xanax developed autism (1.1 percent).
For comparison, among children who were not exposed to the drug, 13,200 of the 863,000 (0.9 percent) in the group were diagnosed with the condition.
Initially, the analysis showed a slightly increased risk of autism among babies whose mothers took Xanax.
In the first trimester they had a 13 percent increased risk of developing autism, while in the second it was 10 percent and the third 21 percent.
But then a sibling comparison was carried out, comparing the risk of autism in babies born to the same mother.
This saw siblings with the same biological mother compared, controlling for factors including year of birth, gestational age, maternal smoking during pregnancy, and other factors.
These results showed that there was no significant difference in autism rates between the two groups.
The study also looked at rates of ADHD among children.
But after controlling for confounding factors, there was no difference in the prevalence of autism among babies whose mothers took the drugs during pregnancy compared with those whose mothers did not.